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John McCain’s Glorious Revenge: Arizona Senator Bitch Slaps Trump

Posted by on Jul 28, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 1 comment

 

 

Late last night in front of the entire country and the whole world, Sen. John McCain bitched-slapped the President of the United States.

He did it with a defiant thumb turned upside down, signifying a vote of “no.”

This glorious act of sweet revenge may have been the senior Arizona senator’s finest hour ever on Capitol Hill, especially after years of waffling all over the political gridlock since he was humiliated as captain of the painfully inept McCain-Palin shipwreck that ended up getting iceberged back in 2008 by Barack Obama.

Indeed, just about everyone outside the Right-wing fringe with a stranglehold over Republican Party politics had given up on the so-called “maverick” politician.  Two decades earlier, Sen. McCain made quite a name for himself for his willingness to compromise on important issues in order to get things done and even worked with members of the opposition party — noble virtues considered heresy inside the poison well of our political culture today.

Sen. McCain’s moderation seemed to be a thing of the distant past.  That was until late last night, at about 1:45 am local time in Washington, during a late-night roll call vote on a spellbinding motion to move a controversial bill forward that might have gutted the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. “Obamacare”).  As the names of senators were called one by one, everyone knew the vote would be razor close.  Even though Republicans control the Senate, they needed just 50 “yes” votes for the bill to pass.  Trump’s Vice President, Mike Pence would have cast the fateful deciding vote.  But the bill fell just ONE VOTE short.

Somewhere along the line, Sen. McCain either came to his good senses or recognized the Trump-led Republican Party for what it’s truly become — a shit show.  He’s come to realize there’s a madman running the American government’s three-ring circus.

We may never fully know the reasoning behind Sen. McCain’s surprising decision to break away from the members of his own party.  Indeed, he did appear to change his mind on this issue.  However, one has good reason to suspect this was a heavy dose of sweet revenge.

Two years ago, then-candidate Donald Trump made what many believed was an appalling political gaffe when he stated:

“[John McCain) is not a war hero.  He was a war hero because he was captured.  I like people who weren’t captured.”  [READ MORE HERE]

From 1967-1973, Captain McCain was locked up Hanoi inside a North Vietnamese prisoner of war camp after being shot down as a Navy pilot.  He endured unfathomable torture dished out by his captors which resulted in lifelong debilitation of the full mobility of his arms.  Meanwhile, within that same time frame, Donald Trump dodged the draft and took FIVE military deferments to avoid service in Vietnam.

You tell me — who’s the hero?

McCain’s “heroism” would make an astonishing encore appearance, this time in a very different act of defiance against an adversary, not foreign but domestic.  The greatest irony of all was this was supposed to be “heroes week” at the message-marketing White House.  Finally, a promise was delivered.

A few days ago, less than two weeks after undergoing emergency brain surgery to remove cancer that’s lodged behind his left eye socket, Sen. McCain made a triumphant return to the Senate floor, the stage of many his previous battles.  However, this battle might have been his greatest victory, both personal and political.

Sen. McCain — so derided by critics for so long both on the Right and Left, so often the victim of his own compromises, so ridiculed for his confusing stance on many important issues — finally stood up and asserted that faint but flickering glow of independence.  He passionately argued for bipartisanship and urged his colleagues to come together.  Then, late last night in that roll call vote, he backed up his words with decisive action.  That’s leadership.

While he spoke to the full chamber watching in silence, one couldn’t help but notice Sen. McCain’s gruesome scar across his forehead.  But that wasn’t the biggest scar in Washington, this morning.  Indeed, a far more ghastly scar was inflicted upon the spiteful, petty, bully of a showman with zero legislative accomplishments in his first 7 months in office who was just schooled about how to really “make deals.”

Making good deals starts with this, Mr. President — treating people right.  This is something the man who took credit for his ghostwritten biography entitled The Art of the Deal” knows nothing about.

Thank you for rising to the occasion, Sen. McCain.  This may have been your finest hour.

 

___________

MORE:  Listen to the audible gasps from the U.S. Senate when Sen. McCain walks into the chamber, asks for the attention of the clerk, and casts his vote:

 

 

 

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Braver than Bigotry: Counterarguments to the Ignorance of Trump’s Transgender Ban

Posted by on Jul 27, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 2 comments

 

 

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts [1], please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow … Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity [2] in the U.S. military.  Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming … victory cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs [3] and disruption that transgender people in the military would entail [4].  Thank you”

— President Donald Trump

 

Question:  What’s braver than bigotry?

Answer:  Any transgendered person who is willing to voluntarily enlist in the United States military, especially in face of so much ignorance and hatred.

Unlike the dirt-dumb, draft-dodging, tweeting-twat tainted with the stain of five cowardly draft deferments, many thousands of transgendered Americans have answered the call to duty and been brave enough to serve our nation.  Listen up, Mr. President — you might learn something.

Instead of choosing to take their rich daddy’s dirty money and spend most of their lives dodging creditors, avoiding taxes, bankrupting bond holders and business associates, scamming poor college students, and preening for television cameras, many fine American citizens who also just so happen to be transgendered opted to join our armed forces.  To me, this takes a special kind of person.  So far, according to the U.S. Department of Defense’s own records, virtually all of these people on active duty and in reserve units have served honorably.  Many transgenders even risked their in combat and were awarded the most prestigious honors we can bestow on the bravest.

Are you listening, you bumbling coward?

However, our bitter half-wit of President with absolutely zero previous military service — with no prior background in any form government — and who lacks any experience whatsoever in foreign affairs — shocked everyone yesterday when he tweet-farted an inexplicable official new military policy certain to disrupt and distract us all once again from things which are important.

The military ban against transgenders wasn’t just wrong in terms of its substance.  The ban was yet another classless, poorly-thought through, politically-motivated smooch to the religious right wing hate machine, one of his few constituencies of continued support.  It seemed to be made with all the contemplation of popping an Alka-Seltzer after a case of indigestion.  The ban even blindsided the highest members of his own cabinet, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and all four branches of the U.S. military.  They all woke up Wednesday morning to a new order from the President, with no sense of guidance nor any detail.  Waking up in America now has been reduced to running to the crib each morning to see what the screaming baby has tweeted out to the world.

As is the case with all things Trumpian, the statement is pockmarked with blatant falsehoods and lies.  See President Trump’s statement above.  Accordingly, I have highlighted four particular segments in bold type:

[1]my Generals and military experts” — Generals and military experts do not belong to you, Mr. President.  Personnel in all branches of the military have served this proud nation long before you.  They will serve once you are long gone — hopefully sooner rather than later.  Moreover, the President clearly did NOT consult with anyone on his staff.  President Trump lied.  See:  US JOINT CHIEFS BLINDSIDED BY US MILITARY BAN

[2]in any capacity” — This was the line that took many by surprise.  Clearly, there are many jobs in the military which transgendered people can do just as well as everyone else.  The “fitness for combat” debate is perhaps worth having and we should let those who know combat have a strong voice in this.  However, most jobs in the military are not combat-related at all.  They are in support.  Many are technical.  Others are in repairs.  These jobs should be open to everyone who’s willing to enlist, so long as that person passes the necessary training requirements.  This includes transgendered people, too.

[3]tremendous military costs” — Here the President is referring to a tiny fraction of enlistees who opt to have transgender surgery while on active duty.  The Pentagon reports this medical cost amounts to about $8.5 million per year, which is about the cost of a couple of tires on a F-22 fighter.  Just to prove the absurdity of this comment from the President, erectile dysfunction pills (such as Viagra) costs the U.S. taxpayer ten-times the amount as transgender surgeries — nearly $90 million annually.  “Tremendous military costs,” my ass.  President Trump is lying.

[4]disruption that transgender people in the military would entail” — Wrong again, Mr. President.  Not just wrong.  But embarrassingly wrong.  Don’t take my word for it.  Listen to the RAND CORPORATION, the most revered, hawkish, pro-military think tank in the history of the United States.  Rand released a comprehensive study on this subject last year.  Their conclusion (in their words) was as follows:  “Policy changes to open more roles to women and to allow gay and lesbian personnel to serve openly in the U.S. military have similarly had no significant effect on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness.”

 

Here are a few additional *myths* I’ve come across on social media during the last day or so (with my responses):

MYTH:  Transgenered people are bad for morale and combat-readiness:

Wrong.  Rand Corporation’s study examined all nations where transgendered (as well as gay) people have served, including combat.  “….little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness.  Commanders noted that the policies had benefits for all service members by creating a more inclusive and diverse force.”

 

MYTH:  Transgenered people don’t make as good a soldier as “straight” enlistees.

False.  There is no evidence in support of this.  Yes, there are some anecdotal experiences of bigots who may not have been entirely comfortable serving alongside people they think are different.  Yet, nearly two years into the policy of inclusion and nearly two decades into a more open policy towards gays, military preparedness has not been impacted whatsoever by their inclusion.  If anything, given some difficulty in recruiting talent and finding people willing to engage in combat, the volunteerism by transgenders (and gays) has been positive.

 

MYTH:  The military is not a place for social experimentation and forced engineering of equality.

Bullshit.  The same sadly pathetic outdated arguments were once used against Blacks serving when the armed forces were fully integrated in 1948.  Later, Blacks ended up serving in disproportionally higher numbers in combat when Vietnam came around, thus negating the “social experimentation” claim.  Later, the same prejudice was used against women enlisting in various jobs.  Then, the same excuse was pulled from the mothballs again when we began allowing gays to serve.  Now, here were are in 2017, and the old putrid stench of bigotry is back rearing its ugly head once again.

 

MYTH:  The military isn’t like civilian life or other government jobs.  Service men and women do not enjoy the same rights.

This is true, in part.  However, we’ve seen over the generations that military service is often a critical gateway to accessing education and training.  This has especially been the case for the poor and lower middle-class who have looked to the military as a springboard to a solid career, a good-paying job, and greater stability later in life.  Those who are able to serve and gain skills are often preferable job candidates.  They enjoy advantages over non-veterans, especially in many technical, medical, and security jobs (vets get preferential hiring treatment in most government positions).  Denying any person access to the military DISCRIMINATES AGAINST THAT PERSON FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIFE.

 

MYTH:  We should listen to the military people alone on this issue.  They know more about this than we do.

Yes, we should listen to the military people.  But we should also listen to others, too.  In the past, a large contingent of the military opposed racial integration, saying it would destroy morale.  They were wrong.

 

MYTH:  The military isn’t the place to take risks, especially with lives on the line.

False.  The military has always been the greatest risktaker in America.  The military rolls experimental aircraft down runways, manned by brave pilots who don’t know if the plane will fly or crash.  The military uses all kinds of experimental weapons, many of which explode accidentally.  The military engages in risks in battle — almost daily.  Risk is a fundamental part of life in the military, for everyone.  Hence, allowing .02 percent of the armed forces to be made up of transgendered personnel seems like a relatively minor risk, especially given that it’s produced no discernible issues, so far.

 

MYTH:  Transgenders are enlisting to get free surgery, at taxpayer expense. 

Numbers vary, but out of 1.3 million service personnel currently in uniform, somewhere between 1,600 and 6,500 are believed to be transgendered.  The actual number of trans-related surgeries performed each year is quite small.  Moreover, the motivation for joining the military varies.  Many enlist in order to get training and education.  Some seek the benefits.  Quite a few simply want to serve their country out of patriotism.  The same motivations which apply to “straights” also apply to transgenders.

 

My position is simple:  I will stand up and fight for equal opportunity for all, including transgender people.  This is NON-NEGOTIATIABE.  It is a basic human right.

In conclusion, I have but one final question for all the bigots and blindly-obedient Trump fluffers out there who think banning transgender people (or anyone else physically and mentally fit to serve) is a good policy:

Why are you so afraid of transgender people?

Here’s a thought:  Perhaps you’re the one who needs mental counseling.

 

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The Greatest Photograph Ever Taken

Posted by on Jul 24, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Picture 1, Travel, Uncategorized, What's Left | 1 comment

 

 

[This is the follow up post to the article “WHAT’S THE GREATEST PHOTOGRAPH EVER TAKEN?” and subsequent discussion HERE which took place on Facebook.]

 

You’re looking at the greatest photograph ever taken.

It’s an astonishing image, spellbinding even, especially given the unforeseen interlude of the snapshot and the tumultuous times unraveling back on earth at the instant that it was taken.  The image is a blaze of contrasts, and for many — an inspiration and a call to action.

This photograph was snapped by William Anders in late 1968.  Anders was one of three astronauts aboard the Apollo 8 space mission.  Remarkably, Anders had no prior experience in photography, and yet his image has been called “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken.”   Not bad for an amateur.  The photo was even something of an accident.  It wasn’t planned.

Later named “Earthrise,” we see the earth in the distance which appears as an oasis of vibrant colors floating in the dark abyss of outer space.  The foreground shows the moon’s surface up close for the very first time, directly beneath the Apollo 8 spacecraft.  Contrast this image with grainy black and white television images transmitted back to earth from the lunar capsule, and the differences are striking.  We take these images for granted now, but at the time they were taken and later splashed around the world in media, we were in awe.

This image was a first in so many ways.  Earthrise was the first photograph to show the earth in its entirety.  While some of earth is concealed by a shadow and we can’t see the other side of the planet, it’s still the first comprehensive photo of all of humanity and the place we call our home.  Still, let that sink in.  Before this instant, we never quite knew what the whole earth looked like.  Previous manned space missions had beamed back many stunning images, but they were taken much closer to the earth’s surface.  Until this mesmerizing moment, we’d never seen ourselves truly as one.  In a sense, it’s the first “group shot” of everyone on earth.

This is us.

The timing of the photo also adds significantly to its power over us.  From space, we see what seems to be a peaceful planet.  But the historical backdrop to this photo was the terrible year that was 1968.  The world was in chaos.  This was the height of the Vietnam War.  The two superpowers were locked in a death-stare of conflicting ideologies, both sides stanchioned by thousands of nuclear warheads.  At the time, the U.S. didn’t even recognize the largest nation on earth, the People’s Republic of China.  Apartheid was the law of the land in South Africa.  Famine and starvation raged across parts of Asia and Africa.  Tensions were brewing in the Middle East, which had just come off a war between Israel and the Arab States in the prior year.  Central and South America were in the midst of their so-called “dirty wars,” as many countries were ruled by brutal military dictatorships.  Revolutionaries were active almost everywhere and had even launched a new tactic particularly loathsome to humanity, called “terrorism.”

The United States was also in crisis.  National Guard units patrolled the streets of many American cities.  There were nightly curfews.  Every major university had mass protests against the Vietnam War.  Race relations exploded into riots and burned many American cities.  There was a generational split on every cultural and political issue — the old didn’t like or trust the young, and the feeling was mutual.  Yes, 1968 was a bad year — Dr. Martin Luther King was gunned down.  A few months later, Robert F. Kennedy was murdered.  Even one of the national political conventions erupted into near anarchy.

Yet, none of these man-made troubles are apparent in this stunningly beautiful groundbreaking image.  This was the portrait of a seemingly very different world that was taken when Anders lifted a Hasselblad camera loaded with 70 mm film and aimed it at the earth.  The audio recording of the conversation between the three astronauts inside the spacecraft reveals just how spontaneous this moment was:

William Anders:  Oh my God! Look at that picture over there!  There’s the Earth coming up.  Wow, is that pretty.

Frank Borman:  Hey, don’t take that, it’s not scheduled. (joking)

William Anders:  (laughs)  You got a color film, Jim?  Hand me that roll of color quick, would you…

Jim Lovell:  Oh man, that’s great!

Here’s another thought:  Given these historical firsts, the ironies of what the year 1968 was like, and the accidental occasion to take such an iconic photograph, also consider the actual date this image was taken.

December 24, 1968.  Christmas Eve.

Some 240,000 miles away, a billion people were about to celebrate the holiest of holidays.  Many of us would later sit down to dinner just hours later with our friends and loved ones (I was 6-years-old at the time).  While many of us enjoyed our Christmas feast, three remarkably brave men were so very far away, locked inside a tiny compartment the size of a Volkswagon, circling the moon.  The mission set the stage for the first moon landing, some seven months later.

Now, take another look at the photo.

I’m often asked why I believe the way I do.  I’m asked what makes me champion the virtues of science and reason, and why I value cooperation over conflict, and why I’m an advocate for human and animal rights, and why I’m an environmentalist, and why I don’t believe in imaginary gods, and why I don’t think national boundaries or borders are a good thing when it comes to being a fully compassionate human, and why I’m convinced we’re all much more interconnected than the wedges of disagreement which divides us.

There is no mine.  There is only ours.

Never has one photograph instilled within us such an important task — to save what we see.

 

Note 1:   The Earthrise photo had been preceded by a previous image taken in 1966 by a robotic space probe.  However, that image was in black-and-white and didn’t generate nearly the impact.

Note 2:  Read more about the marvel of Earthrise here, from the official NASA website.

 

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Restaurant Review: The Black Sheep (Las Vegas)

Posted by on Jul 22, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Restaurant Reviews | 0 comments

 

 

The Black Sheep has been getting rave reviews, so I had to pay this cozy neighborhood restaurant a visit.  Marieta and I dined together on a busy Friday evening and were lucky to be seated at the last table available before the inevitable wait list began.

There are many things to love about The Black Sheep.  There are also a few disappointments, admittedly more the result of my personal biases and clashes in tastes, rather than quality or service.  In other words, if you’re into the trendy nouveau restaurant scene, you’ll probably like it more than I did.

First, the good things:  The Black Sheep offers a marvelous variety of food and drink — from specialty cocktails ($9-12) to tasty appetizers ($5-16) to plenty of entrees with a unique flair ($15-25).  There’s at least one item of beef, chicken, pork, and seafood to satisfy most tastes.  I listed the price ranges because, as one can see, this is a surprisingly affordable place to dine out when compared with other contemporaries in this class.

Advertised as Vietnamese-American, this is the type of snooty restaurant one might expect on the Las Vegas Strip, at double the prices.  However, The Black Sheep is far friendlier.  It’s tightly nestled in the corner of an L-shaped storefront and conveys much more of a local’s feel, the perfect after-work meeting place, especially singles from the crowd we witnessed.  On the night we dined, the clientele was almost exclusively comprised of younger professionals.

Marieta ordered the Slow-Cooked Short Rib with Yucca Gnocchi on a bed of Summer Squash Ratatouille.  Her dish was stellar (I devoured a third of hers), and was a relative steal at just $20.  The short rib was so tender, no knife was needed.  The medley of beef, gnocchi, and ratatouille was divine.

My order consisted of something more simple — Rainbow Trout in a tasty vinegar sauce.  I’m a Rainbow Trout fanatic, so wasn’t quite sure this would match my palate.  However, the chef grilled the trout to absolute perfection, conveniently deboned, but also served with full head and tail.  My only complaint about the food was my jasmine rice accompaniment was a bit too sticky and clumped badly.  Still, I didn’t come here for the rice, so this was only a minor annoyance.  Also of Note:  The portions are not large.  This is not a place to go if you savor a huge meal.  Think of what you might expect in some fashionable Beverly Hills bistro, sans the attitude.

The Bad:  What was annoying for me was the ambiance, which had several shortcomings.  To be fair, The Black Sheep is a new hit spot, so it’s to be expected that the restaurant is already way too small for the crowds.  That’s not a knock on the establishment, at all.  Yet, while the culinary treats are ample, physical comforts are nonexistent.

For one thing, the spartan tables and chairs, dark concrete floor, and industrial loft look is certainly trendy, but also not the greatest atmosphere for a first date or casual conversation among friends.  The restaurant is very loud, made worse by a sub-standard sound system playing music that’s indecipherable from the ambiance of 75 people within seemingly talking all at once.  One of my major pet peeves is having to strain to hear the person next to me who’s talking in a normal tone of voice, even though my table mate was just 3-feet away.  Many people obviously aren’t bothered at all by this.  I don’t like it.

Another negative was the lighting, where The Black Sheep fails badly.  Many Las Vegas restaurants are at a comparative disadvantage with dining establishments in other parts of the country.  That’s because the sun here is often hot and blazing.  While there’s nothing The Black Sheep can do much about 105-degree afternoons, they should do something about the front windows, which blasts in a headache-inducing glare.  Since the restaurant is open 5-11 nightly (closed for lunch), blinding light is a big problem for diners who come in during the first few hours.  The rest of the place is dark, while sun rays peer through the front like it’s a midnight drug bust.  Sure, a small takeout joint can get away with this annoyance.  An upscale restaurant of this quality cannot.  Something needs to be done about those windows.  At least — pull the drapes.  No one wants to look out into a parking lot, anyway.

Here’s a stock photo (not taken during my visit) which shows the layout.

 

 

The service was excellent.  Our host, waitress, and busboy all seemed to know a great deal about the restaurant, even though they’d been open only two months (at the time of this review).  Staff were on top of every need and checked on us just enough to make sure we were happy without the constant hassle of interruption so often experienced at other places.  Remarkably, our dinners came out in less than ten minutes.  Not sure if this is routine, but the kitchen here can put out food quick — if needed.  A somewhat limited main menu of about a dozen entrees probably speeds things up for the back of the house.  Moreover, a smaller restaurant like this will rely on turnover in order to survive, so the quick service might be part of the standard plan.

So, I credit The Black Sheep on their affordable prices, excellent food, originality, and fast and efficient service.  However, I slightly downgrade them for some problems with the decor and customer comforts.

Also note — Early Happy Hour runs from 5-6 pm with $5 wine, $4 craft beers, and $1 fresh oysters on the half shell.  There’s also a late 10-11 pm Happy Hour for night owls.

Overall, this was a positive experience.  I recommend The Black Sheep and give them a solid 7/10.

Based on the popularity of what’s become one of the hottest new spots in Las Vegas, reservations are strongly recommended.

VISIT THE BLACK SHEEP WEBSITE HERE

 

 

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What’s the Greatest Photograph Ever Taken?

Posted by on Jul 19, 2017 in Blog, Essays | 3 comments

 

 

This will be an unusual column.

For one thing, it’s interactive.

Second, there are no right or wrong answers.

Finally, your opinion matters.  Well, maybe.  Your opinion matters if you give this topic some serious thought and you craft your explanation wisely.  Here it goes….

I have no actual data on this, but it’s probably accurate to guess at least a hundred billion, perhaps even a trillion photographs have been taken since the first camera was invented about 170 years ago.  That’s a lot of photographs.

So, given the broad history of modern civilization, so widely documented with the camera by some truly remarkable people who have put themselves in danger in order to capture an image, my question is this:  What is the single greatest photograph ever taken?  More to the point — why?

For me, this is an easy answer.  I came to this realization earlier tonight while accidentally stumbling upon the well-known image, and really for the first time, recognizing its awesomeness.  Later on, I’ll share this revelation with you.  But for now, I won’t spoil the fun of speculation for those who want to engage in the discussion and perhaps even debate with others.  In fact, if someone posts a compelling enough image and argument, then (perhaps) I could be persuaded to change my mind.  I think we all want to enter this exercise with an open mind.  So, please try and draft your reasoning wisely.

The task is simple, should you chose to accept this challenge.  Google search the one photo you believe to be the greatest ever in history and then post it.  “Greatest” could also mean most shocking, most meaningful, the bravest, or perhaps even the most beautiful.  That’s entirely up to you.  The photo you chose can be of any subject.

Please visit Facebook [EASY TO DO — CLICK HERE] and post your selection.  So that others might also enjoy the discussion, your photo must also be accompanied by a paragraph or two, explaining your reasoning.

In a follow-up article sometime in the near future, I’ll cut and paste the TEN best photos and write ups.  I’ll get the final say, but also might call upon some professional photographers to offer their assessment.  Some friends I am considering calling upon would include — Neil Stoddart, Joe Giron, Jayne Furman, Erick Harkins, and David Plastik.  Let’s see how this goes.  I might even add a prize if this topic gains some steam.

And so now, let the debate begin about the greatest photograph of all time.

 

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Steven J. Horner: Rebel With a Cause

Posted by on Jul 17, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Facing the Firing Squad, Las Vegas | 0 comments

 

 

MEET STEVEN J. HORNER

“All politics is local,” is a common truism meaning that what we do with our lives within our local communities often produces the most tangible results.

Steven Horner, a retiree living in Las Vegas, best personifies this spirit of local politics.  He’s busier than most people half his age, often tirelessly putting in 60 to 70 hours per week on any of his pet projects and political activities.  He’s a champion of public education, always his favorite topic to discuss.  Any day or any night, Horner is likely to be seen participating in a public march, organizing a meeting, volunteering on a project, or directly lobbying an elected official.  Horner is a 27/7/365 activist who lives, breaths, and preaches his philosophy of life — which is justice and opportunity for all.

I first met Horner at a local political meeting right after the 2016 presidential election.  Stunned by the electoral disaster, Horner was quick to launch into action.  Always prepared to act and not just whine and complain, he began organizing yet another generation of activists eager to engage in a new battle and channel a wayward shock of political defeat into something constructive and meaningful.

Horner is the chairman of a local Democratic Party organization, a responsibility which only scratches the surface of a weekly routine which includes ceaseless political activities.  He attends local public hearings, where he often speaks about important issues.  He travels to the state capital (at his own expense) to meet with legislators.  He works with volunteers and other activists determined to fight for common values.

Whatever your politics, one has to genuinely admire Horner’s intense personal commitment and boundless energy.

Steven J. Horner was born on July 17th, 1951 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He was the first of four children born to Jack and Ruthanne Horner.  When he was young, the Horner family moved and he grew up in McGill, Nevada — a small mining town run by Kennecott Copper Corporation.

Later, Horner attended a boarding school in Mt. Pleasant, Utah — Wasatch Academy.  This experience was “one of the truest influences in my life,” he says.  Indeed, this strict educational indoctrination at a church school triggered the first of many impulses over a lifetime to #resist.  Horner’s revolutionary spirit first sprouted during a time of sweeping political and social change across America.  Horner’s questioning of the establishment resulted in expulsion from school during his junior year.  He questioned the rules set forth by the governing church, which was not a popular thing to do in Utah at the time.  Horner was branded as a troublemaker — a label he would eventually come to embrace as someone not willing to sit by idly in the face of ignorance and unfairness.

Horner did not graduate until later in life, a shocking revelation given his intense devotion to public education and broad knowledge of so many different subjects.  Horner later moved to Silver City, New Mexico, where he met his wife while working at a semi-professional theatre.

In 1971, Horner moved to Las Vegas.  “I did many little jobs, drove a truck, worked as a bartender, and a cook,” he says.  Shawn, his first child was born a year later.  Later, he had a second child, aptly named Hope.

Many who know Horner now might be taken back by his decision to enlist in the U.S. Army in 1973 — just as the Vietnam War was coming to an end.  He served and was even stationed in Italy for a time.  Despite a growing family and active military service, there was still a deep void in Horner’s life.  He knew that he had to go back to school and complete his education.

And so, after years in the Army, Horner returned home to Las Vegas.  In 1979, he began to pursue a B.A. in Theatre Arts.  However, he’d take another personal detour which lasted ten long years.  Behind the scenes, there was a darker cloud overhead which had begun to profoundly impact his daily routine, and not in a good way.

Horner recognized that he’d become an alcoholic.  In fact, the 1980s were something of a blur, until Horner finally woke up one morning convinced he had to make some serious changes in his life.  His sobriety began on June 12, 1990 (Horner still remembers the exact date).  Sober and feeling alive again, he returned to UNLV and completed his BA in 1992.  Three years later, Horner — the rebellious youngster who had once been expelled from a church institution and dropped out of high school and later even college — was awarded an MEd in Special Education.

Horner went on to become a teacher in the Clark County Public Schools where he’s spent the balance of his time teaching and working as an advocate for teachers.  Horner insists he “retired” in 2014, but now remains busier than ever.

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STEVEN J. HORNER FACES THE FIRING SQUAD
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What are some of the things you stand for?

My passions are public education (specifically K-12, but also includes all public education i.e., Headstart and all public colleges) and workers’ rights especially to collective bargaining protection. I also advocate for universal healthcare, public lands, clean and renewable energy.  The exploitation of any minority is something that I do engage in as well, no matter the reason no person should be treated as inferior. Overall, I will stand with people above the churches and corporations that currently seem to control many of our world`s governments.

 

What are some of the things you stand against?

Corporate greed and the destruction of the public education system. Beyond that, the narcissistic attitude that gives some individuals the sense that somehow elitism is acceptable. Money is a necessary evil in our current lives, however I will stand against and will fight the greed that leads to this behavior. To deny any living being the basic needs of life is cruel and undeniably the most reprehensible attitude displayed by anyone. And that I will always stand against this no after what the opposition.

 

What living person do you admire the most, and why?

I hate to be cliché, I have many living heroes for many reasons, but Hank Aaron is the man that I can always look to for inspiration. From 1957 when I listened to game winning home run in a World Series game to the night I watch on TV him hit number 715, he was a man that did with class and no self-bravado.  No matter the death threats, hate mail, rejection by Bowie Kuhen and MLB he went out each day and did the job he was given and always gave it his best effort. I will never know what it is like a to be an African American and that kind of hate, but I do know that when faced with so much hate and so many obstacles here was a man that truly held his head high and rose above it all to just do his job in the Deep South.

 

What historical figure do you admire the most, and why?

Those that died in a cause of helping the working people to have a voice, these individuals were often nameless and lived in poverty. Because those individuals stood their ground and died for their brothers and sisters to have a better life is something I think about every day. I grew up in a mining town and saw the benefits of those that stood up. From the Railroad massacres in the 1800’s to the mining deaths as recent as the last decade, I recognize the worker, not the union boss, as the true hero in the strife for those that work every day to keep food on the table and a roof over the heads of their family.

 

What living person do you despise?

The Donald Trumps of the world — those willing to lie, cheat, and exploit to gain a place of power to further the lying, cheating, and exploitation. Donald Trump is the most visible, but I have seen these people in all places, union leadership, principal of a school, elected officials, any place that there is an illusion of power over other people.

 

If money were not an object, what profession would you choose?

I was and would again be a teacher.  I am sorry I ever left the profession.

 

What is it about yourself that you are most proud of?

My sobriety.

 

What is it about yourself that you’d like to change?

I would like to be a stronger leader, both with my grandchildren and my fellow people — I feel at times like I have failed them.

 

What’s the most exciting thing you’ve ever done?

I can’t think of a specific single event. Every time I advocated for a teacher that was being bullied or exploited I felt excited and as if this was a mission. We didn’t always win but we gave it the best fight and those on the other side knew they had to work hard to gain a victory, but on those occasions we prevailed I felt as if the world had gained a victory.

 

What’s the most unusual time and place you’ve ever visited?

The Presidential Inauguration in 2012. I have never been comfortable in large crowds but to watch a President that I voted for, with my grandson and wife being sworn in was a very unusual albeit exciting time. But not one I would like to repeat.

 

Name a place you’ve never visited where you still want to go.

The Death Camps of Nazi Germany… man’s inhumanity to his fellow beings is something I have a difficult time understanding and I continue to search places that represent that inhumanity. From Little Big Horn to Andersonville, to Japanese internment camp in Twin Falls and Delta, I search for the reason and hope to learn how to bring forward the idea that this can never happen again.

 

Favorite book, favorite movie, and favorite musician.

Favorite (Fiction) book and movie are the same — To Kill a Mockingbird.

Non Fiction is — Das Kapital

Favorite musicians:  Tchaikovsky and Andrew Lloyd Weber

 

What upsets you the most?

Politicians that vote against the will of the people that elect them, then tell the electorate that they just don’t understand.  That kind of arrogance is what makes politics unappealing to the masses.

 

What bores you?

Reality television this is truly the dumbing down of the people, followed closely but self-gratifying people.

 

Do you believe in an afterlife and why do you believe it so?

Okay, metaphysics also bores me.  No, I personally do not believe in the afterlife or a mythical deity.  I do believe that each day if you get up and do your best, someone will remember you and tell someone else of what kind of daily hero you were and through the oral history that memory will be forever.

 

Finally, I understand you have another passion that might strike some as strange given your background.  Why is golf your hobby?

I realize that it is probably the one sport that symbolizes everything I despise, but I find competition a waste of time unless it is against myself. I also find it amazing that a sport that perfection cannot be achieved is something to which I can relate. Each swing is something that I try to repeat but find each is different. It is also a time that I can find some reflection time.  It is the sport of the rich, but sometimes the poor can find solace in the imperfection that is golf.

 

 

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What Happened the Last Time Conservatives Ruled America?

Posted by on Jul 13, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 2 comments

 

 

There once was a time, not too long ago, when conservatives dominated most of American daily life.

During this memorable period, three consecutive Republican presidents were elected — all by wide margins.  Each of these presidents appointed pro-business cronies to high office who were given positions of power.  Giant companies prospered due to laissez-faire attitudes combined with government’s abdication of responsibilities.  People at the very top got really rich.

By contrast, liberals were widely viewed as political outcasts.  Many of their ideas were classified as either “radical” or much worse — “Socialistic.”  Politically powerless, many American liberals flocked instead to more welcoming professions such as the arts.  Liberals became really good at making movies, wrote the most popular books of the day, and created a new form of popular music known as jazz.

Conservatives were determined to put “America First.”  Back then, conservatives were viewed as nationalists, while liberals were thought of as globalists.  Relations with other nations were widely thought to be inconsequential.  America tore up previous trade agreements and even imposed strict tariffs on imports from foreign countries.  The United States military withdrew from global alliances and abandoned its status as a world power.  After years of international conflict, America stubbornly refused to join a new organization devoted to peaceful diplomacy called the League of Nations.  Way too European.

Sound familiar?

When conservatives ruled over the land, immigration to the United States from other countries was curtailed.  Tough new naturalization laws were imposed which denied entry to most people from other nations.  Immigrants were even subject to a rigid quota system, based on national origin (race and religion).  No one wanted to take refugees from countries in crisis.  In particular, Leftists were singled out and were widely viewed with suspicion.  Despite the rising scourge of Right-wing dictatorships all over the world at the time, the few immigrants who did make it to U.S. shores were asked only about “Communist” sympathies.  Nothing about fascism.

Republicans held onto control of the White House for 12 years.  Republicans also dominated both chambers of Congress, holding more than two-thirds of all seats in the legislature — the highest percentage ever in American history.  Wall Street went absolutely bonkers.  Republicans cut corporate and personal taxes, especially for the super wealthy.  Banking and finance were deregulated.  The stock market soared to record highs.

Ring a bell?

While conservatives may have indeed championed economic freedoms, individual freedoms were widely curtailed.  Alcohol was banned nationwide in the form of a new Constitutional amendment known as Prohibition.  The government’s first “War on Drugs” was openly declared, which made drug possession a serious criminal offense.  Gambling was illegal in every U.S. state, including Nevada.

Inside conservative America, Christianity wasn’t just religion — but was the veritable law of the land.  All communities everywhere were subject to a strict faith-based code of morals and ethics.  Church attendance reached an all-time high.  No coincidence, membership in the Ku Klux Klan also skyrocketed, becoming that largest fraternal organization inside the United States with more than four million active members.  The Klan was so prominent all across America and so politically powerful that white-robed throngs all waving American flags marched down the streets of the nation’s capital, to the cheers of thousands.

The social order in America was as strict as it was clear.  Abortion was illegal everywhere and punishable by imprisonment.  Gay rights didn’t exist.  Blacks and other minorities weren’t merely treated as second-class citizens.  Rather, they were often confronted with violence and even murdered without any repercussion by angry mobs, and sometimes even by law enforcement.  There was no such thing as a “hate crime,” back then.  Minorities were dragged down the streets and hung from trees.  For millions, segregation and discrimination were a way of daily life.  The existing social order imposed mostly by White conservatives also made it far more difficult for minorities to vote in elections.

Remind you of anything?

Public education wasn’t so much a path to enlightenment as an indoctrination of traditional beliefs based on faith.  Creationism, not evolution, was taught in schools — at least until a famous landmark case finally ruled in science’s favor.  Conservatives in many parts of the country continue to fight this ruling, to this very day.  In other words, we’re still entrenched in the attitudes of the past.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, the period of American life when conservative ideology dominated the political, economic, and social landscape like no other time was — the 1920’s.

Yes, the Roaring Twenties.

To many, the fond memory of flag-waving patriots following a faith-based moral code is appealing.  To many, the thought of reducing government’s role in our lives and allowing unregulated businesses to profit might seem an intriguing proposition.  To many, the notion of building relationships with other countries just isn’t all that important.  In short, except for far less white sheets and a lot more booze and casinos, the conservative American mindset isn’t that much different today from the way things were nearly a century ago.

However, let’s never forget what happened when the conservatism’s grand illusion all came crashing down.  Recall the instant the light switch flicked on at America’s unprotected financial orgy of unregulated excess and the avaricious saw each other with their clothes off.  Remember what occurred when capitalism was left to its own self-policing devices and the working class was utterly abandoned by the protections of government regulation and proper oversight.

October 29th, 1929 might not jog the memory, because it happened so long ago.  That’s when the Great Depression officially began, which turned our national economy into a dust bowl and ruined millions of lives.  Some historians even claim the global economic collapse fostered the rise of totalitarianism over the next decade, and eventually the start of World War II.  Thanks, conservatives.

For those who may need a refresher course in history — incredibly, unbelievably, inexplicably — all this happened again a decade ago.  Starting in 2001, a proud conservative was elected to the presidency.  This new leader was widely admired as a Christian man, with deep personal faith.  A cornerstone of his economic philosophy included the comprehensive deregulation of banking and finance sectors, resulting in a temporary stock market boom that all came violently crashing down on September 15, 2008.  Just as before, when Republicans were allowed to run most of the show, the entire world ended up in crisis and chaos. [See Footnote]

On both previous occasions (1932 and 2008), progressive new leaders from the Left were elected to office to scrub the shit stains out of the rug left by conservatives.  And they did.  Franklin Roosevelt and his “New Deal” programs (including an overhaul of banking regulations) eventually restored the United States into a stable, even prosperous economy.  Some seven decades later, President Barack Obama inherited just as huge an economic mess and — despite overwhelming opposition from conservatives every step of the way — still somehow managed to lead the American economy to a full recovery, on which the grotesquely-oblivious and historically-ignorant current President now rides coattails like a hopelessly spoiled child craving attention and praise.

Conservatism versus Liberalism isn’t a dull argument for academics.  It’s a debate we all must engage in, here and now, given the stakes are so high and that we’ve been down this familiar path twice before, both times when conservatives dominated the political landscape and crashed the national psyche onto the rocks, abandoned the ship and left us all to sink.

This time, let’s remember our history and try to learn from it.

___________

Footnote:  On October 19th, 1987 a third economic collapse occurred, when stock markets crashed around the world.  On “Black Monday,” the NYSE dropped 24 percent.  The formula for this disaster was much the same.  A Republican president with traditional values professing to be anti-government and pro-business was well into his second term.  Conservative economic policies — including deregulation of banking and finance as well as massive tax cuts for the wealthy — were adopted.  After a temporary boom period, the end result was disastrous.

 

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Elia Authentic Greek Taverna — Las Vegas (Restaurant Review)

Posted by on Jul 3, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Restaurant Reviews | 2 comments

 

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Elia Authentic Greek Taverna is a new restaurant located on the west side of Las Vegas, just south of the intersection of Flamingo and Durango.

This location has been quite a tough sell for restaurauteurs and local foodies who fancy trying out new and creative ethnic cuisine.  Previously, the sun-bleached strip-mall storefront has been the culinary graveyard of an upscale seafood eatery (closed in 2008) followed by Gino’s Italian Bistro (which closed last year).  For those keeping score, that’s 0-for-2 — even though both prior places were well above-average restaurants that I enjoyed frequently (though apparently not frequently enough).

Elia likely stands a much better chance for success based on a number of reasons.  First, the local economy is far better now, than a decade ago.  Many popular upscale eateries in Las Vegas shuttered their doors following the economic crash of ’08, which now seems like a distant memory with all the mess going on right now.  The surrounding area has changed also, with the most notable new neighbor being Mint Indian Bistro, which moved in directly behind Elia’s.  Using the magnet marketing theory, the very best thing that can happen to restaurant struggling to create a steady clientele is having another creative dining force located right next door.

More belaboring a proven point, if I may.  This area has been utterly flooded by Mediterranean restaurants over the last decade, at least in proportion to the local population, many who probably don’t know the difference between a falafel and kibbeh.  Directly across the street, a nice Persian restaurant closed-down just three months ago.  Half a mile to the north is Zaytoon, my favorite Iranian market-bistro here on the West Side.  Even Putter’s Bar and Grill, a popular neighborhood pub about 200 feet away serves up tasty Lebanese food.  Yeah, I know — Greek food isn’t the same as Lebanese or Persian food, but many Americans likely won’t see much of a difference in the basic ingredients.  This is what makes Elia’s challenge all the more intriguing.

Elia is small, about what one might expect if vacationing on the islands of Kos or Crete.  White tablecloths, perfectly manicured tabletops, and a sparkling clean interior are most welcoming.  So was the house music, played at the perfect decibel level, which are mostly mandolin-heavy Greek instrumentals — a perfect background for table conversation.  Even more welcoming is the friendly ownership and staff, which greets customers instantly.  From the moment we walk in the front door, we are made to feel like their house guests.

What may be the best price-fixed menu in Las Vegas is available until 3 pm daily at Elia, and this made for an easy choice among lots of temptations to choose from.  For $15, a three-course meal with various options is available.  The courses include an appetizer or salad, a main course with potatoes, and a dessert.  All for 15 bucks.  That’s quite a bargain.

This might seem like a small thing, but it’s really a big thing.  It often foretells of the experience to come, and that’s the bread.  Many restaurants opt to go cheap in the bread, serving stale unimaginative dinner rolls or slices of white bread that are little more than caloric time-buyers intended to stave off customers until the main course arrives.  Not Elia.  Their bread was oven fresh, as good as any European bakery in the city.  Pipping hot, laced with flour, crispy, and accompanied by an above-average ramekin of Greek olive oil.  This was a very good sign.

Then, the first of three courses was served.  We began with Keftedakia, which is essentially Greek meatballs (borrowing from the Turkish Kofta).  Four were served on a platter with mint, onion, and parsley.  I could have enjoyed this as a main course — yes, it was that satisfying.  My three-course meal also included a marvelous Greek salad, though not of the standard creation one is typically used to at many Greek-American restaurants.  Mine was made of immaculately chopped rocket lettuce, topped with a perfect seasoning of olive oil, zesty lemon, and mint, accompanied by a delicious block of feta cheese and black olives.  Yummy.

The main course (e.g. the second course) was also satisfying, but not quite up to the glorious standards of both value and quality set forth in the appetizer (and finished with the dessert).  I enjoyed my home-made gyro sandwich, which is pretty standard at all Greek establishments.  To their credit, the meat wasn’t nearly as salty as I’ve tasted elsewhere.  The yogurt sauce wrapped in the pita was delicious.  Elia also serves fresh, hand-cut fries (not frozen) on the side, which merits applause.  Again, this is a very minor critique, and can certainly be overcome by ordering one of many other Greek dishes available at lunch and dinner ( must return and try multiple items — perhaps worthy of a follow up report).  If the bread and appetizer scored a 10, the main dish would scale an 8.  As for the next course, I would give it an “11.”

Dessert was fabulous.  I wolfed down my rice pudding, served in a cold cup, topped off with a generous dazzle of reddish cinnamon.  Marieta enjoyed her fresh yogurt topped with a coulis of three fresh berries — raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries.  The rich creamy yogurt, which I’m not typically a fan of, was stunningly delicious.  We fought over the last few bites.  The tart topping of berries was as zestfully delightful as any five-star restaurant.  I would call this simple, yet delicate Greek closer absolute perfection.

Our two three-course meals, with a drink and tip all came to $42 — a steal.  Dinner prices are equally competitive, but are assuredly an even better value given all the alternative mediocre food served elsewhere by run of the mill chains which charge considerably higher prices and then cut on the quality.  Give this place a try.  Skip the stale old Applebee’s or abomination of Friday’s for a night, and live a little.  You’ll be glad you did.

Elia receives my highest possible restaurant rating based on fast and friendly service, a comfortable atmosphere, authenticity, quality, and more than enough menu choices to keep me (and hopefully many readers) returning for more.

ELIA AUTHENTIC GREEK TAVERNA (OFFICIAL WEBSITE)

 

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Light My Fire (On Legalizing Marijuana)

Posted by on Jun 30, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Personal, Politics | 1 comment

 

 

Tonight at midnight, it becomes legal to smoke marijuana in Nevada.

This new law which goes into effect a few hours from now is long overdue, and hopefully a harbinger of things to come in other states.  I believe in the total decriminalization of (outlawed) drugs.

Let’s look at the hard facts.  The “War on Drugs” has been a failure from the start.  We’ve wasted billions of dollars in law enforcement and prosecution at every level.  We’ve blown billions more on incarceration.  We’ve ruined countless lives making non-violent drug violations every bit as harsh as murder and child sex crimes in some states.  We’ve also seen many people killed on both sides of the law because of drugs.

I say the “War on Drugs” has failed because no one can possibly make a convincing case that it’s succeeded.  Despite all the efforts — from law enforcement to education — the majority of Americans have tried illegal drugs at least once.  If that’s not a failure, I don’t know what is.  When hundreds of billions are blown fighting a pointless war with zero tangible results to show for it and still more than half the country ignores the law, what’s the point?

I’ve been asked to attend a few “Light Up” parties tonight here in Las Vegas.  One of my closest friends even wants me to write about his gathering of lucky invitees who will all get to imbibe in a secret stash that’s equivalent of popping the cork on a rare bottle of 1962 Chareau Lafite Rothschild.  Another associate suggested that actually I smoke marijuana for the first time and then document my experience as though I’m some poor man’s Timothy Leary.

Not happening.

Surprising as this news might be to many, I’ve never tried any illegal drug (other than moonshine — does that count?).  I’ve never had any desire to smoke, snort, nor inject.  I have my own reasons for this position, which I’ve conveyed in my past writings.  Nonetheless, this personal opinion about what’s best for me doesn’t preclude me to issue judgments towards others who may have quite a different view.  This is what’s called freedom and individual responsibility.  To each his (or her) own.

I love to drink and make no apologies.  I also know alcohol is a far deadlier vice than marijuana. On this there is no debate.  About 10,000 people die per year because of drunk drivers.  The number of injuries and amount of property damage caused by drinking is considerably higher.  Then, there are the needless brawls at public gatherings, the abusive marital relationships worsened by alcohol, and the general lethargy caused by drinking which probably makes this our most costly social addiction (except perhaps for guns).

So, what happens when we legalize marijuana?  Even for the “let’s legalize drugs” crowd, the results are pretty shocking.

A new study found that the number of traffic deaths declined in states where marijuana was legalized [REUTERS STORY HERE].  Traffic deaths declined!  One can speculate as to the reasons why there’s an apparent contradiction between changing laws and expectation.  Perhaps many users who would otherwise drink to excess are now smoking marijuana instead, which doesn’t necessarily inhibit operating a motor vehicle.  Maybe the worst that happens is the stoners fall asleep at traffic lights.  Maybe they’re too busy waiting at the drive-thru at In-and-Out Burger.  I don’t know.  But the statistics don’t lie.

So, who does lie?  Well, the Attorney General of the United States of America — for one.  Jeff Sessions is now ordering tougher drug sentences for offenders.  That’s right.  President Trump’s point man on criminal justice is taking us back to the bad old days of prohibition.  He’s returning to the failed policies of “Just Say No.”  All research shows this to be not just the wrong approach.  It will also waste more money.  It will clog up the overburdened courts.  It will lock up more people needlessly.  It will break up families.  It will waste money we do not have to waste [READ MORE HERE IN THE ECONOMIST].

We have truly reached the point where society is turned completely upside down.  We have responsible marijuana users who have been proven to cause little or no harm to society, nor to themselves.  We also now have an Administration and a federal government determined to prosecute and punish these people.  It’s madness.

June 30th, at least for one night and for a little while until the heavy hammer comes down, Nevada will join the ranks of progressive states with modern, science and fact-based 21st Century outlooks on drug laws.  Meanwhile, the Trump Administration intends to take us back to the failed drug polices of the past.

This is yet another policy position that is both stupid and utterly indefensible.

 

READ MORE:  I strongly recommend reading “Race and the Drug War,” which details the vast disparity of justice based on race and income.   

 

FOLLOW THE DISCUSSION ON FACEBOOK HERE.

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My Monthly Shit List (June 2017)

Posted by on Jun 27, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Personal, Politics | 4 comments

 

 

I’m rolling out a new feature certain to amuse, shock, and confuse.

Let’s call this — my monthly “Shit List.”

This list will include rankings, from 1 to 10, of the people, places, and things that most piss me off at this moment.  My list is subject to monthly revision based on (in no particular order) — wars, plagues, gambling losses, cocktail consumption, and mainstream media brainwashing.

A drum roll please….

 

MY MONTHLY SHIT LIST — JUNE 2017

 

[1]  President Donald Trump

President Trump is likely to remain atop my monthly “Shit List” for quite a long time — at least until one of two things happens:  (a) He’s impeached, or (b) Adam Sandler releases another embarrassingly unfunny movie and seizes the shameful pinnacle of the #1 spot — whichever comes first.  Trump’s daily carnival of contrived chaos might be comical were it not so consequential.  Based on just five months in office, Trump is likely to go down in history as King Kong in the demise of American democracy.

 

[2]  Songwriters Who Sing About Maritime Disasters

I’m fed up with folksy three-chord songs about sinking ships and drunken sailors reminiscing about some sad old wreck buried at the bottom of the sea.  I don’t want to hear this!  Life is already depressing enough without listening to some a whiny-ass wanna’ be pirate singing about a rusted relic running into an unexpected storm, sinking to the bottom, now polluting the bay.  Never mind torturing suspected terrorists at GTMO with blasting heavy metal music.  Put on a Gordon Lightfoot album and the terrorist will be squirming like a canary.  “Yes, I admit being a member of Al Queda — now please, don’t make me listen to ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” again!  This is a phobia of mine, every bit as queasy as spiders and killer clowns.  I don’t like songs about maritime disasters.

 

[3]  Racist Cops

I’m tired of seeing young men of color gunned down without proper cause by law enforcement, followed by our courts’ failure to punish such gross injustices.  This might be the most important issue of our time, one which threatens to destabilize our society.  Racist legal practices must addressed by the establishment before mass civil unrest erupts (and mark my words — it will).  Consider the multitude of shocking well-documented cases where citizens are treated quite differently based on race (YouTube has many videos, including this ONE).  Comedian-activist Dick Gregory said it best:  “If dogs were being shot down by police in the same numbers as young Black men in this country, angry White people would be storming city hall.”

 

[4] Omaha High-Low Split Players (at the Orleans Casino — Las Vegas)

The charred souls of bitter, broken-down men largely populate Omaha High-Low Split tables infested with a chronic dreariness.  These crusty, crabby, cantankerous shards of once-productive members of society have become devoid of any pulse of humanity.  If these fossilized Omaha players weren’t wasting away the final vestiges of their miserable lives by spending 65 hours a week hunched over poker tables squeezing out a measly $1.62 an hour plus comps, they’d probably be writing depressing songs about shipwrecks instead.  Low-stakes Omaha players = miserable miserly malthropes.

 

[5]   Snooty Waiters

I’m sick of being treated like dirt at fancy restaurants.  The snooty charade usually begins with the forced up-sell on bottled water.  “Tap or sparkling, Sir?”  Then, after listening to the waiter gab on for three full minutes describing the steamed carrots I get looked down at like a piece of gum stuck to the bottom of his shoe when I dare ask for the price of the nightly special.  Listen you too-lazy-to-get-a-real-job pest — you interrupt me while I’m speaking to my dinner guests to ask if everything is okay (if things aren’t okay — wouldn’t I let you know?), and then you disappear like magician’s white rabbit when I want to order an extra serving of those carrots you talked me into.  Hey my bow-tied pal, you’re not Ivy League professor lecturing on constitutional law.  You’re a fucking waiter.  So, zip the attitude.

 

[6]  Fanboy Sycophants 

Celebrities don’t know jack shit about much of anything, except perhaps what they’re really good at — like actors (with movies) and athletes (with sports).  But ask them about anything else, and their opinions are just as worthless as yours and mine.  So then, why does everyone go dick fucking gaga when a celebrity posts something on Twitter, often on a complex topic they’ve never taken a second to study?  Please stop it, people.  Save the blind-faith ass-kissing for rare occasions when your hero actually does something truly remarkable, or says something original.  Poker fanboy sycophants are among the worst.  Any tweet with a Day One/First Break chip count with 1,600 “likes” is grounds for a long eye roll and an immediate block.

[7]  The San Francisco Giants

These miserable pricks have cost me a fortune during the last few weeks.  There’s a guy I know betting with me (no juice, so it’s legal) who’s has been riding the anti-Giants gravy trainwreck since the start of June (they’re currently 27-51, the worst record in baseball — and have lost 6 games in a row).  A few nights ago, thought I might have a shot at a win.  Shitty Giants were up 6-3 late in the game, then the Braves (the Braves!) scored a touchdown — 7 goddamned runs in the bottom of the whatever to win the game 10-6.  7 runs!  I’m bleeding money on the Giants.  More like hemorrhaging rent money.  Bastards!

 

[8]  Democratic Party Leadership / Establishment

Is there a more clueless gaggle of ineptitude than the current leadership of the Democratic Party?  Republicans have all but gift wrapped the entire ballgame to Democrats, but they still somehow can’t win a meaningful election.  Democratic positions on every major issue are more popular with the general electorate (health care, foreign policy, taxation, gun control, etc.).  Democrats also raise plenty of money.  Democrats have the perfect boogeyman to run against in the White House.  Nonetheless, they keep on losing in embarrassing fashion.  Re-electing feeble fossils to leadership posts, running lame, gutless candidates who are often ashamed to stand up for the progressive agenda, overemphasizing divisive issues, and generally behaving like the San Francisco Giants of politics — all reveal it’s way past time to clean House.  And, the Senate.  Move aside, losers.  You blew it.  Time for a new generation of voices and ideas.

 

[9]  Absentee Homeowners

Las Vegas has become a haven of hell for lazy absentee home owners, mostly rich fucks living somewhere in California, who slumlord out their second and third “investment homes” while letting the neighborhood turn to total shit.  They try charging California rental prices and then when the properties sit empty for months, squatters move in, tear the place apart, and turn the street into a ghetto.  I know this firsthand, because I’ve seen it happen.  The city should enforce much stricter codes on upkeep and seize property when laws are violated.  I think absentee homeowners (a nice word for slumlords) are scum.

 

[10]  Shitty Summer Movies

Summer movies are shit.  Wizards, superheroes, cartoons, car chases, skull-fucking mindless comedies, talking machines — I don’t care for summer movies catering to 9-year-olds who infest cinemaplexes like larvae buried in the Everglades.  Since when did adults abdicate our rightful role as guardians of the cinematic arts and allow corn-syrup slurping kids to completely take over Hollywood?  I can’t wait for September — which means the return of decent, thought-provoking French movies with subtitles no one can understand.

___________

 

DISHONORABLE MENTION:


Furniture Manufacturers

Those of you who follow me on Facebook already know this story:

Marieta saw some nice new furniture on the Internet and decided to order a sofa and love seat for the living room. The old stuff was about ten years old, so she said it had to go. It’s direct from the factory in North Carolina and they said it would take three weeks for delivery.

Fine.

So, at 8 am today some bug-ass clown bangs on the front door without any fucking notice at all and announces “YOUR SOFAS ARE HERE!” Gee, couldn’t we get a phone call first? I’m standing there like a dick in nothing but shorts and sweating like a beached whale and have no time to take a shower, and now I’ve got to fucking shove furniture all over the downstairs living room. But hey — the sofas are here, so I go ahead and roll with it.

So, off come the sofas from the panel truck and they even unwrap them for us. Instantly, I see these sofas are monsters and realize there’s a problem. The goddamned things won’t fit through the front door!

HOW THE FUCK DO YOU MANUFACTURE FURNITURE AND NOT STANDARDIZE THE DIMENSIONS, YOU PRICKS!!!! ????

Fact: 95 percent of all front doors in the United States are 40 inches wide. Yet, this cock mashing sofa clocks in at like 44 inches! Who are they making sofas for — the goddamned Pope!!! ???

Disbelief.

How can a reputable furniture company not make stuff that will fit through a front door? It’s not like we live in some cramped-ass gerbil-cage in Manhattan. We live in a 2-story house! We somehow got refrigerators, stoves, king-sized mattresses, 65-inch TVs, and a piano in the house THROUGH THE FRONT DOOR — but we can’t get in a fucking sofa!

I’m flabbergasted that a company would do this to people.

So, anyway…..

The two Hispanic guys just look at the door and shake their heads. Garage entry is even smaller, as the access door through the kitchen is 38 inches. Back yard has access, but the sliding-glass door barely opens to about 39 inches.

We’re fucked!

So, the delivery guys basically say, “you’re on your own.” Fine, screw their tip. I mumble to myself — “That saved me a twenty spot, now get lost. Scram!”

So, right now, I’m four inches on the wrong side of being too big and I’ve got a brand new gorgeous sofa and matching love seat sitting out in the fucking front yard, exposed to the blazing flames of the sun, with no place to go. I have no idea what to do, other than stick them in the garage which will make for some very expensive cat scratching posts.

Screw ordering furniture over the Internet! Buyer beware!

 

ESports Gamers

I think “esports” is total bullshit.  It’s a joke.

Bunch of punk-ass kids with no social skills living in their parents’ basements jittering on computers all day and night like overdosing dope-fiends. All that’s missing are the black spoons and Bic lighters.

Esports is crap.

 

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